ABSTRACT

Policy may be briefly defined as a set of stated intentions and resultant practices in the name of the public good. The policy process is the means by which policy is conceived, negotiated, expressed and, perhaps, brought into law, and the procedures of implementation and practice. This and the following chapter examine the ways in which forest policies and, particularly, participatory forest management (PFM) have come about. This task is necessary because policy reform does not emerge as a linear response to ‘truth talking to power’, as the Introduction has discussed – in other words, as a result of facts from research or other sources that reveal new truths and support alternative rational arguments for a policy change. Changes to policy are much more complex than this simplistic rationalist model. Thus, the traditional question ‘How can research be transferred to the policy sphere?’ is currently replaced by the question ‘Why are some of the ideas that circulate in the research/policy networks picked up and acted on, while others are ignored and disappear?’. In the case of forest policy in India and Nepal, there has been a long and distinguished literature on forest policy reform; and yet, the forest administrations responsible for reform have, by and large, been slow to pick up appeals for justice and a more pragmatic policy that balances the needs of rural forest users with those of commercial forestry and ‘green cover’ imperatives. This and the next chapter seek the reasons for this.